Friday, October 19, 2007

My Favorite Sunflower

My husband never quite understood why I was so fond of Maximilian Daisies; he was only too aware of their aggressive nature, a tendency to take over the garden if and when the circumstances are right. I guess that it's just the nature of the human male to be wary of any other aggressor!

Be that as it may, I've had a clump of these perennial sunflowers almost as long as I've lived in the current house. Always figured they were named after the Emperor Maximilian and hence were natives of Mexico and New Mexico. Just to make sure, I consulted the USDA plant guide and was disabused, only to find out that Maximilian sunflower is native to the central United States [and Canada], from Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio, west to Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado and south to Texas. It may be sparsely introduced east and west of its native range.

The unique habit of this sunflower is that the many blossoms range up and down the single stalk, instead of branching out. Note how the buds (above) and the developing flower head (below) grow.

Unlike the more common garden sunflower and the highly bred crop sunflower, the Maximilian is a perennial -- which accounts for its spreading habit. Because the perennial roots dig far deeper into the soil and thus offer much greater erosion resistance, USDA plant breeders are working to create new crop varieties to compete with those annual giants raised for their oil and food seeds, according to an recent article in Scientific American.

More info about the daisy: Native Americans used parts of this plant as sources of food, oil, dye, and thread. Pioneers planted Maximilian sunflowers near their homes to repel mosquitoes and used the blossoms in bathwater to relieve arthritis pain, the USDA says.

And now for a confession: I currently grow three stalks of the daisy in a large pot. Those glorious flowers at the introduction to this post (and below) are over on Grove Street, where there's plenty of room and, I suspect, the soil is a lot friendlier than my decayed granite.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures. It might get above freezing here today, but we do have sun.

Steve

sheoflittlebrain said...

I never knew! That's a lovely sunflower, and of course now I want some for my little garden!

Granny J said...

Steve -- Chez GrannyJ hasn't had a freeze as yet, tho higher elevations in town certainly have!

Brain -- I can give you a starter plant from the shade, where they steadfastly refuse to bloom.

Olivia Kroth said...

three sunflower heads
nodding up and down to say
hello to the sun

smilnsigh said...

"I guess that it's just the nature of the human male to be wary of any other aggressor!"

-giggles- Another line in one of your entries, concerning your past husband, which.... Hmmmm, how do I say it? ,-) Well, I guess I DON'T say it. ,-)

But if these flowers are as strong as you say, why wouldn't they take to your not-so-friendly soil?

And thank you for stopping by my Photos-City-Mine blog!!! I'm so proud of myself for having the guts to ask to join this group!<--Don't I sound silly? Well, sure I do. But it's true to. I am proud of myself. ,-)

Ever think of taking your 'Walking Prescott' over there?

Mari-Nanci

Granny J said...

Olivia -- thank you for another splendid haiku; what a nice way to present a comment!

SnS -- to explain to other readers -- Mari-Nanci's blog about her city has been accepted into the City Daily Photo Blogs group, an around the world look different cities from an insider's point of view (always the best...). My congrats to SnS!

PS -- I tend to be an independent sort of cuss & try to avoid too many more rules in my life.

Lucy said...

So that's what they are! I seem to have noticed them for the first time this year, everywhere, and now someone's just given us a clump of them, warning about their invasive nature and root runners. They are a grand spash of colour. We'll be able to look them up now.

Granny J said...

Lucy -- be sure to give the daisies good sun. I have a few plants in the shade that have been there for years and never have blossomed! But take the warnings about invasiveness seriously.And enjoy -- they are wonderful to have as autumn arrives.

meggie said...

They are so sunny & bright it is hard not to smile upon seeing them!

Granny J said...

meggie -- yes, and just before the cold hits makes them quite special.

 
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